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October 12, 1957

HEART BLOOD VS. FEMORAL VEIN BLOOD FOR POSTMORTEM ALCOHOL DETERMINATIONS

Author Affiliations

Professor of Biochemistry and Toxicology Indiana University School of Medicine Indianapolis.

JAMA. 1957;165(6):725. doi:10.1001/jama.1957.02980240083027

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Abstract

To the Editor:—  In the paper by Turkel and Gifford, "Erroneous Blood Alcohol Findings at Autopsy," which appeared in the July 6, 1957, issue of The Journal, the authors reported analyses for alcohol conducted on heart blood and femoral vein blood taken from 51 alcoholic cadavers during autopsies performed 3 to 72 hours after death. In 16 of the cases the alcohol level in the femoral blood exceeded the heart level, the ratio being 0.95 to 0.99 in 13, 0.85 in 2, and 0.81 in one. With the remaining 36 bodies, the ratio of heart blood sample to femoral vein blood sample exceeded 1.00 and was above 1.10 in 11 (1.11 to 1.54, average 1.23). Turkel and Gifford ascribe these high ratios to postmortem diffusion of unabsorbed alcohol from the stomach to the region of the heart.Another factor, apparently overlooked by these authors, may have been the cause of

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